Bread of Life Food Pantry thanks local groups

BALDWIN — This week, the Bread of Life Food Pantry in Baldwin extended its thanks to several groups and businesses who have helped support the pantry's efforts during the past year.

They recognized several organizations which have worked to collect food or money to help keep people fed, or have otherwise worked to support the food pantry's efforts.

"On behalf of the Bread of Life Food Pantry, we would like to gratefully thank Houseman's Foods for providing many donation opportunities for us, The M-37 Meat Shack for their support and organization of the Hunt for Hunger donations, The Fire Departments, Baldwin Community Schools, Sav-a-Lot, Geo Corrections, Feeding America, the Lake County Community Foundation, Lake County Community Food Council, Gordon Food Service, Scully Statewide Moving, the Baldwin Library, all the local businesses and churches and especially the endless volunteers that help us fight hunger in our community," said Lynne Mills, procurator for the Bread of Life Food Pantry. "We are successful because of all of you!"

This included the Baldwin Fire Department, who donated a truckload of food purchased with public donations for the benefit of the food pantry on Feb. 20. The Baldwin firefighters, along with several other Lake County fire departments have taken special efforts to aid the hungry.

"The money came from the community, but that includes the hunters who come up for the weekend and a lot of firefighters from departments in places like Detroit or Flint," said Baldwin Fire Chief Marty Walker. "As firefighters, it's nice to see the community in a way where no one is suffering tragedy. We often see people on their worst day, and this gives us a chance to see them on one of their best."

Mills was overwhelmed by the donation.

"I've never seen such generosity from a community," said Mills. "The chief said he had some food to bring over; I wasn't expecting a truck. This is such a blessing."

Then, on Feb. 22, Mills and food pantry volunteer Carol Groulx met with the owners of Houseman's Grocery and the M-37 Meat Shack to give them plaques in recognition for each businesses particular efforts during the last year to combat hunger.

"These plaques represent our thanks and recognition for them doing their part in the fight against hunger," remarked Groulx.

The food pantry receives weekly donations from Houseman's bakery. The grocery also provides room for area fire departments, including Baldwin, to set up to collect food and money on behalf of the pantry. Houseman's also ran a donate a dollar collection three times in the summer, the proceeds of which all went toward stocking the Bread of Life shelves.

"I'm trying to do more up here at our Baldwin store since we don't have as many opportunities near our White Cloud store," said Houseman's owner John Hammersley. "It's community involvement and supporting the community. We've had three different fire departments working to collect food here and argue over who gets what weekend. I have never seen that in a community."

The M-37 Meat Shack was thanked for taking part in the Share the Harvest campaign. Meat Shack employees collected more than 1,000 pounds of venison donated by hunters which they donated evenly between the Bread of Life Food Pantry and the Bitely Community Church Food Pantry.

"This is a program that gets a usable resource to those who need it," explained Meat Shack owner John Matson. "Through these efforts, none of the hunter's meat is wasted. We're just trying to do right."

The Meat Shack also regularly donates packages of meat to the food pantry throughout the year. Mills said efforts like this are crucial because there are so many people in the community who depend on the kindness of others.

"By the numbers, we have 33 volunteers who are working to keep the pantry working, we've had 2,300 family visits to the pantry in 2015 which came out to 5,800 bags of groceries distributed to those in need," said Mills. "This is important because the number of visits people have taken to seek help from the pantry has doubled since 2014."